Lopez: The bizarre world of Dan Beebe

By John Lopez

More from John
August 9, 2011
175

Drip, drip, drip. That’s how it begins, with just a drip.

Then, there is a crack. Then, there is a crevice and the tiniest trickle of water begins seeping out from the wall of the once-mighty dam. It breaks, water gushes, walls of water pour out and anyone in the path can only pray they find something on which to cling, desperate to keep their head above water.

Which brings us to Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe.

Today, Beebe is drenched, dripping wet, already in well over his head. And yet he continues to tell us that skies are blue and the sun will rise tomorrow on brighter, better Big 12 days.

He is fooling no one, except himself. He does this because it’s his only play. Such are the bizarre, desperate ways of a desperate man and Beebe is exactly that.

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A year ago, when Beebe was taking bows for seemingly saving the Big 12, telling people, “my characteristics were needed,” there was the tiniest of flaws in his grand plan. Overwhelmed by the prospect of the Big 12 — and his job — being swept away under a flood of conference realignment, Beebe compromised reality.

He made $18 million promises he could not guarantee to Big 12 member schools while giving the Texas Longhorns the opening to leverage a fantastic deal with ESPN.

The fact is, Beebe didn’t save 10 teams, he saved one. Don’t blame the Longhorns for doing what any other school would have done. But the fact remains establishing a class system drove a wedge between Texas and the other two marquee programs in the conference — Oklahoma and Texas A&M. As for the other seven member schools, they were left to sit there and take it because their other options were much less profitable.

It became only a matter of time before the dam came crashing down and, well ... it is. Beebe is in too deep.

Yet he continues to stand there and tell all who listen that all will be well. When asked by ESPN about recent concerns from the conference's athletic directors over the Longhorn Network, Beebe said that Texas' athletic director, DeLoss Dodds, “did not want to do anything that was going to create a recruiting advantage or do anything that was going to harm the conference.”

Of course he didn’t. Nobody likes recruiting advantages, least of all mega-programs who have a $295 million investment from the World Wide Leader for which they are responsible.

But of course, Beebe said that about Dodds on the same day that severe issues in the Longhorn Network contract came to light, all saying the exact opposite.

Among them: A framework is already in place for the Longhorns to play elsewhere or become an independent and remain with ESPN no matter what happens to the Big 12.

There also is a licensing clause that would prevent the Longhorns from being involved with a potential Big 12 network. Then there is the golden carrot of Texas earning 70 percent of the ESPN profits after the network recoups its $295 million investment. In other words, there is incentive on ESPN’s part to make the Longhorns look like the most attractive place in football. Hence, the network attempted to include broadcasts of high school games and attempted to get a conference game televised on the Longhorn Network.

Beebe quickly backtracked on the high school games and second conference game on the LHN, but neither is yet permanently written out of the contract.

Beebe also continued to ignore the obvious uproar that points directly to the Aggies’ rank-and-file fans' discontent with Beebe’s leadership and desire to move to the Southeastern Conference.

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He said those Aggie fans pushing for the SEC are not in the majority. It was yet another misguided rant of a desperate man trying to save his job.

Over and over, Beebe tells us things despite all evidence pointing to the contrary.

If Big 12 fans and specifically Aggie fans were to believe everything Beebe said, then we would be living in a world in which:

• DeLoss Dodds is most concerned with the health and long-term viability of the Big 12.
• Big 12 member schools are content that Texas has financial guarantees, with or without the Big 12, for the next 20 years. Meanwhile, the other nine schools have no such thing.
• The majority of Aggie fans would rather play in a splintered, financially skewed Big 12, with no conference title game, than in a conference on the most solid footing of all.
• Every single AD in the league believes that the Big 12 in its current state is the best place for their program.
• When Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin said to reporters there was “uncertainty” about the Big 12, he didn’t really mean it.
• Texas — and this is a direct quote — is “part of the solution” for what ails the Big 12, not part of the problem.

Beebe tried to fix the problem of conference realignment a year ago and it only got worse. Now, he is trying to fix a problem that has caused more dissent and doubt among Big 12 schools than ever before.

Dan Beebe is living in a strange, bizarre world if he believes any of the things coming out of his mouth. The only thing more frightening would be if Byrne and Loftin believed any of it, which I would doubt.

After all, Byrne and Loftin have heard this all before. Like they say, fool me once...